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Can a Deceased Passenger’s Family File an Insurance Claim?

A collision being blamed on an SUV driver who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a parked tractor-trailer after running off the side of the interstate is sure to raise difficult questions regarding wrongful death insurance claims.

 

 

The deadly wreck happened in Gaston County, North Carolina (NC), at around 3:45 am on May 31, 2018. According to police from the nearby town of Belmont and troopers with the Highway Patrol, the crash close to the Beatty Drive exits from I-85 happened because the woman driving the SUV lost control when she nodded off. Her passenger died at the scene, and she received hospital treatment for minor injuries.

The North Carolina Driver’s Handbook has this to say about drowsy driving:

 

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), your number one responsibility is to get yourself and your passengers to your destination safely. When behind the wheel, you always need to be alert and focused on the job of driving. At 55 mph, a vehicle travels the length of a football field in 3.7 seconds. This is no time for a “mini” snooze. On the roads more traveled, being an attentive driver and looking out for the one who isn’t, is increasingly important.

 

The handbook further notes that driver fatigue causes thousands of crashes, injuries and death each year, and also that “crashes caused by drowsy driving are often serious and occur most often on high-speed rural highways.”

Crashing after falling asleep at the wheel often brings a charge for reckless driving. The statute specifies that acting in ways that make it impossible to fully control one’s vehicle constitutes recklessness, and a person be awake in order to control a vehicle.

Everyone acknowledges that reckless drivers who injure or kill other people should face charges and insurance claims. Fewer people may understand that an at-fault driver’s passengers have legitimate insurance claims. As the North Carolina Driver’s Handbook notes more than once, a driver assumes responsibility for protecting the lives and health of all their passengers. Failing to do that makes a driver responsible for providing compensation and paying damages.

Partnering with a caring and experienced Carolina wrongful death attorney will help the family of the passenger killed along I-85 in Gaston County hold the driver accountable. Working a lawyer may be particularly helpful if the driver and passenger knew each other well or were related. An attorney will act as a neutral third party who will keep emotions out of the proceedings and handle all communications in a professional manner.

EJL

Richard N. Shapiro
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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